Software

How do I... Subscribe to RSS Feeds with Mozilla Thunderbird?

<img src="http://t.cbsimg.net/i/z/200606/how_110x85.jpg" align="right" border="0" height="85" hspace="5" vspace="5" width="110" />Many Web sites offer RSS feeds as a way for readers to quickly and easily view new material. Mozilla's Firefox Internet browser offers RSS tracking via the use of live bookmarks. However, this is still a lot like Web-browsing and therefore is a bit time-consuming, especially if you check multiple sites a day. Adding RSS feeds to your Mozilla Thunderbird inbox is the more efficient way to track those feeds -- here is how you set it up.

Many Web sites offer RSS feeds as a way for readers to quickly and easily view new material. Mozilla's Firefox Internet browser offers RSS tracking via the use of live bookmarks. However, this is still a lot like Web-browsing and therefore is a bit time-consuming, especially if you check multiple sites a day. Adding RSS feeds to your Mozilla Thunderbird inbox is the more efficient way to track those feeds -- here is how you set it up.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic gallery and TechRepublic download.

Getting Started

Thunderbird uses a separate account for RSS feeds than your e-mail addresses. In order to subscribe to an RSS feed, you will need to create an RSS account within Thunderbird. Open Thunderbird and go to File | New | Account.

Figure A

Add RSS #1

Or you can use Tools | Account Settings | Add Account.

Figure B

Add RSS #2

Either way, you will get a pop-up dialog with a list of account types. Select RSS News and Blogs and click Next.

Figure C

RSS News and Blogs

Here you will enter a name for this account. Thunderbird defaults to News & Blogs.

Figure D

Name the account

Select Finish and you're done setting up the account.

Figure E

Finish account

It is not necessary to create a new account for every RSS feed you wish to subscribe to. However, it is easier to manage RSS feeds and accounts, so you may consider creating multiple accounts to house different types of feeds, such as work-related and personal.

Subscribing to RSS Feeds

In the folders pane, right click the name of the RSS account and select Subscribe.

Figure F

Subscribe

In the dialog box, choose Add.

Figure G

Add a feed

You will need to get the Feed URL from the Website you wish to subscribe to, and enter it here.

Figure H

Enter URL
RSS feed URLs are different from Web site addresses. Go to the Web site that you would like to receive an RSS feed from. Locate the RSS feed link on the page; very often it will be at the bottom or on a sidebar. Be on the lookout for the image shown in Figure I.

Figure I

RSS icon

Once you have found the RSS link, simply cut and paste it from the Internet address bar into Thunderbird's dialog box.

The RSS name will appear under the account name in the folders side-bar, and the RSS feed information will appear in the e-mail viewing area, just like regular e-mail.

Figure J

RSS Inbox

Maintaining Control

You can manage RSS subscription settings by going to Tools | Account Settings | (Account Name).

Figure K

Manage

There, you can choose the frequency with which Thunderbird checks for new feeds for RSS subscriptions under that account. You may also decide to have Thunderbird only show summaries instead of loading entire Web pages.

Figure L

Configuration

Choosing Manage Subscriptions will take you to a dialog that lists all subscriptions associated with that account.

Figure M

Associations

You will be able to edit settings for each RSS subscription including the file each feed is to be saved in.

Figure N

Save file

Sometimes RSS feeds may have names that are non-descriptive or possibly overly descriptive. In order to change the name of an RSS feed, simply right click on it from the Folders pane and select Rename.

Figure O

Rename

A simple dialog will appear. Enter the new name into the box and click OK. The feed has been renamed on your computer.

Figure P

Renamed

That was painless

Setting up Thunderbird to get RSS feeds from your favorite Web sites is a great way to stay up to date on local, world, and industry news. Even your boss can't argue with that. Of course, nobody needs to know about that guy's blog you check multiple times daily just because he makes you laugh.

About

Nicole Bremer Nash is Director of Content and Social Media for HuTerra, where she uses SEO and social media to promote charitable organizations in their community-building and fundraising efforts. She enjoys volunteering, arts and crafts, and conduct...

2 comments
lestep62704
lestep62704

The only problem I am having with this is that the notifications require me to login with my username and password through Thunderbird each time, despite me checking the "Save my password" box. I am then sent to a Facebook page that asks for only my password a second time. Very weird. Suggestions?

aglamoursoldier
aglamoursoldier

Thank you so much for a well written how to article! It helped me so much to better understand not just how to use the RSS feeds the most user friendly way but also made me understand what they were. Even though I've already been using them, I was saving them wrong and unable to figure it out on my own. I didn't want to ask anyone because I figured others thought it was such an easy topic. I believe there are many others out there that could use more "how to" articles out there with the "basics" for us bloggers...who are new to blogging. I know I'm in way over my head and I would love some more "how to" knowledge from Mark! Thanks so much! Jen http://aglamoursoldier.blogspot.com/

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